There are only three common sense rules to jump off the Clam.
- Be a very good surf swimmer, not a pool swimmer.
- Know how to read tide charts, so not to jump at low tide (this is a no-brainer) and never jump when can see the rocks protruding from where you are suppose to land at, this means, it is very low tide. (Humm, again a no-brainer)
- Time your jump to hit swell. Does this mean, huh … extra water to land in?
Fact remains, either one of the above is the cause of 100% of all injuries or deaths. Only three rules … but we all know some people are just idiots or do not believe in common sense.
After 1993 the San Diego City started to enforce a no-jumping law or what many call, Laws for Idiots, which before, the only price jumpers paid for their feat was a few scrapes on the barnacle-sharp rocks and occasional $50 citations from lifeguards. But after the deaths of three teenagers from 1995-1996 and the rescues of many jumpers who required hospitalization, the city has cracked down on leaping from the Clam.
Those who are caught will be required to appear in court, with minors facing the added indignity of having to be with a parent. They will face a fine of up to $280. The penalty, enacted by the San Diego City Council, went into effect on June 27, 1996. As of 2009, I believe that fine is now $500, plus the cost of the emergency service if required,which can be in the 1000s.
When item #1 of the requirements is not followed drowning usually occur when powerful winter swells slam jumpers against the cliff. Stunned or knocked senseless, the jumpers fall victim to the cold water and the surging swells or a good rip current takes them back out. Rocks covered with slippery moss also causes hindrances when jumpers are unable to craw out and than panic!
When item #2 or three is not followed, this is where major injuries happened, like a broken neck or back.
Just about everyone during the 60 and 70s knew about jumping Deadmans and the Clam.
In fact, it was being jumped off on regular bases back in the early 30s, but the Meda beach crowd really started to make it popular event during the Rough Water Drink. This was a time when the courage of alcohol got even the most timid primed to take the 20 foot leap.
Did I say, 20 feet? Yeah, only twenty feet and it was not like you were watching the Acapulco cliff divers in Mexico, which I believe the jumps are 60-80 feet or Box Canyon’s, 70 feet or Deadmans just a little south at, 100 feet.
It has been said, the reason it is called, “The Clam” is because the two main edges of the cliff stick out over the water and round in the middle to form the shape of a clamshell, but according to locals, a name given because it looks like something else when viewing it from the ocean …
…. hummm I wonder what that is???
Frances Walsh says
I jumped off the Clam an area shaped like a clam shell, in 1961, my husband and many of our friends were jumping and even though I was 8 1/2 months pregnant I jumped also. The only bad thing was the climb back up the cliffs with such a large stomach. The guys in our group had been jumping off here for a long time. Yes, if you were smart and didn;t want to get hurt you timed the waves for the right swell to jump in and made sure you were jumped out far enough to clear the cliffs. At that time there were even fish, gold ones called Garabaldi there. If I remember right is was just below a little gift shop and above the cove. I was sad when they stopped the jumping, but from the look of the pictures and crowd maybe people not using their common sense and getting hurt was a concern. We all of us were always very careful, missing or mistiming meant you could get hurt, paralized or dead.
Justin McMahan says
I grew up snorkeling Bird Rock. It wasn’t til college somebody introduced me to the Cove. The clam was so amazing. Deadman’s and those beautiful cliffs, curling north around the Shores then Blacks .I’d go almost every afternoon after summer classes at UCSD, 1995. I jumped the clam so many times. With room to take maybe one step before long jumping the eight feet from the launch pad to the lip. That was no big deal, but as soon as you dropped in to the cave,the sun went out, the walls rushing by on both sides, the ocean crashing thundering off the walls and then whoosh under the cold black Pacific. Eventually, I met some other regulars who showed me all the sights: toilet bowl (too scary), the cave under the clam where you could dive down and then pop up in a tiny alcove with maybe 18 inches of air. There was that tube in the big cave you would have to time with a wave to bodysurf through. The first (only) time he did it, he didn’t come out with the rest of us, not on the next wave either. Just when I was thinking how to tell Mom she only had one son now, he slipped out the hole. A local showed me “high tide” once, just on the south side of the clam. I think that was the highest I’ve ever jumped off, definitely the sketchiest. Wave timing and obviously tide were critical. Basically it was just a leap of faith, from 40’. No launch pad, just enough room to plant your feet, calculate the wave and jump, hoping to clear the lip at the bottom. I hit the wave, cleared the lip by 10’. As soon as I hit the water, I tried to go shallow, but I still slammed into the bottom. Fortunately, there was so much sea grass it was almost luxuriously soft. The cove was some of the greatest moments before adulthood. Now it’s encrusted in seal shit and territorial bulls are more of a hazard than any of the jumps. I recently was working in LA with a guy who was missing most of a leg. Eventually I asked him what happened, he explained that he is a long-distance swimmer and has been “tasted.” I asked where and he said La Jolla Cove.. We shared a bunch of cave diving and cliff jumping stories before he finally said, @La Jolla Cove was a magical place, it really was.”
Jeff l Tackett says
We did it in the late 70’s
Bret Rogers says
I jumped off deadmans in 1994only because my boyfriend at the time jumped Ray Padilla.Sure miss that guy and those days.
Ahh la jolla cove (we called it the clam jump) in my day being a cali born native. First time i. Went sorring off it head first ( at the time thought was a good idea ) all timed perfectly watch my freinds a whole 2 days in a row i got this i thougbtall cocky acting like i was doing it for years) well learn a graet lesson that day at a 12 years old i knew all i could surf any wave that came at me jump off mission beach peir swimmming my way to victory everytime if your from cali youll understand what im saying about swimming to victory.. Needless to say timeing perfect knew where every rock was but forgot about one thing the depth jumpex off many heights. Still to this day at 41 the clam is the one that got me had ro climb back up with a broken radius as welk as a few scraps cuts from being smashed against the cliff edge its an awesome dive pkenty of fall time just word of advice FOLLOW THE 3 RULES OR THE CLAM WILL TEACH THEM TO YOU HERSELF . i recommend anyone who has ocean bound swimming , has vast knowlodhe of currents, surfing and has been drowned by many tubular waves because there awesome to go take themselves a run off the clam jump (4 feet is minimum leap out or your going to say hellow to a little freind.
Cynthia Lou Rudd says
I jumped off this cliff back in 1976. When I climbed up and grabbed the robe to pull myself up, the rope came off and I fell all the way down.. There was about 10 of us and a couple I almost took with me. One was in the water when I landed. He pulled me out and carried me up half way. My brother saw it and called 911 right away.
The paramedics came by boat and took me to the hospital. I ended up with 7 stiches in my left hand… Yes that is it.. a merical. But I have many of them.. I will return one day and jump again.. Love it..
Robert Clark says
I spent many years going to the Clam, Deadmans, and even the “slot’ to the left (south) of the Clam. I don’t EVER remember having to wait on the swells, nor did we look for anything but a normal tide! On the other hand, when diving,,( I was scared to jump feet first) off the Ingraham street bridges, it always helped to have someone on the other side of the road, to make sure there were no boats coming!
Jerry Hajny says
I came to San Diego from small town Illinois to spend a summer with my cousins Pete and Phyllis in 1969. Pete brought me to the clam to challenge me to jump it. He told me about timing the jump with the waves and to watch out for rocks on the bottom. Being only 13 at the time it was pretty intimidating and 20 feet seemed to be stretched out to 70 somehow. Then there was the ocean itself which I couldn’t compare too well with the Mississippi River or lakes and ponds that I was used to. There were plenty of beautiful California girls standing around watching…some even jumping, so I had no choice. I jumped right after Pete, fortunately at the right time and surfaced right near him. He told me there was a cave inside the cliff we could get into if we dove under the water a bit. I followed him and we wound up inside a split part of the cliff where there were some big rocks that you could sit on. There was a guy sitting on the rocks with really long hair playing the flute. I can never forget the the moment, he was playing Jethro Tull…and it sounded like the actual artist…it was so surreal. That was one of those defining moments in my life that has always been etched into my core. It saddens me that the city is trying to regulate something that should be a great attraction. Accidents do happen but you cannot regulate humans into a safety coccoon. We must have experiences and adventures to define our true nature. To allow us to become our true selves.
I jumped off the clam quite a few times in the summer of ’68. You would perch yourself at the edge of the cliff and when the swell was just right everyone would start yelling “jump jump now” and you would do it. It was such a rush. After a classmate of mine dove in and surfaced with a face full of blood, I hung up my cliff jumping for good, but I will never forget it for sure. Also did some 4 wheeling on Cowles mountain (before the fence) and behind the Kentucky Stud in Lakeside. Young people can’t have any fun without breaking some law it seems. What a bum deal, there are way too many rules these days.
Allan jones says
The above by me was in 1967 allan jones
Allan jones says
Jumped and dove many times thru summer. When tourists would come down to cliff one of us would jump stay under water swim to side climb up and walk behind them and look down at water with them freaking out that you never surfaced. Ha ha. But we were experienced and didn’t drink
good times…in the 70s and 80s jumping! We all knew how to swim and we all jumped year after year!
Ginna Lazar says
Yup, did it, summer of ’73! Powered by Michelob! Do they even make Michelob anymore
Jumped many times in the early nineties. Great fun. Those that got hurt didn’t follow the rules, drank. Was a witness to a person jumping in that COULD NOT swim. Darwnism at work. Though threading the needle, was pretty damn dumb… and yes I jumped that one as well.
paul davidson says
I think Kurtie spotted a bug. Get’em Kurtie!
Ooops! I meant email@example.com NOT firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, but Deadman’s was way high. How many feet? You crazies jumped, but it was named so for a reason.
Toni Meads says
And he never walked the same again….lol
Dan Dameron says
Kip was only off by one letter….you should be happy.
Katie Stader says
Kurt “Dirty Kurtie” Stader (note spelling) is honored to be in this picture from 25 years ago! Go Kurtie!!!
Doug M. says
That is a very cool picture Brian!